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Why is Google Investing in Featured Snippets?

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This post is a part of our Featured Snippet Resource Center, feel free to explore more Featured Snippets information at Featured Snippet Resouce Center

Here is what Danny Sullivan of Google said in January 2018 about why they are investing in featured snippets:

  1. We display featured snippets in search when we believe this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description and when they click on the link to read the page itself. It ís especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.
  2. With the growth in voice-activated digital assistants, more people are doing voice queries. In these cases, the traditional “10 blue links” format doesn’t work as well, making featured snippets an especially useful format.

In addition, consider the following:

  1. In any environment where the response is provided by voice, it becomes critical that the answer provided fully addresses what the user is seeking.
  2. Unlike traditional text results on a PC monitor or smartphone screen, the second and third answers aren’t there as a backup in case the first answer is not what the user wants.
  3. A new type of algorithm was needed to increase the chances that the first answer is, in fact, the best answer.

To that end, Google developed the featured snippet algorithm. This builds on top of the traditional organic search algorithms to provide enhanced filtering focused on the completeness and accuracy of the answer, based on evaluating the quality of the content. The featured snippet algorithm does rely on the traditional algorithms to the degree that it will only pick from pages that rank highly (but not necessarily number one) in those algorithms, but it’s a new algorithm that attempts to pick the one best answer.

The featured snippet algorithm adds its own process for analyzing how well content answers a user’s query, and that appears to consider any of the top ten results from the traditional algorithm as a candidate for use in a featured snippet.
For more information on related topics, consider these two studies:

  • Our study of which personal assistant is the smartest. We asked Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, & Siri 5,000 questions, all by manually spoken human voice, and we measured the accuracy of their answers.
  • Our study of Voice Usage Trends, based on a poll of 1,000 users. This study shows how user acceptance of using voice with your device in public is growing.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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